When we decided to feature a single Las Vegas hotel and casino for this special edition I began studying the hotels as I always do by checking out their pool area first. Here in Chicago the summer is very short and winter very long so when I go to Vegas I like to really enjoy the sun and dry heat during the day.
With five different pools and three whirlpools to choose from the MGM Grand Pool Complex is hands down one of the best Vegas pools I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. I chose to hang out in the Backlot River pool because of its fantastic lazy river and giant waterfalls. I absolutely felt like a kid again after renting an inner tube and being carried along with other vacationers on the very powerful jet system over a city block long. Surrounded by lush foliage and gorgeous palms, the waterfalls were strong enough to give me a full body massage before returning to my lounge chair with one of the very delicious mango and coconut smoothies served with three different kinds of rum.
Usually there is relatively little interaction between guests around a pool area and you can get that at any of the quieter pools including The Director, Academy and Producer’s Pools, but the laughs and good feelings that occurred as hundreds of adults and kids wiggled and bumped into each other, drinks in hand, floating around the lazy river was just the most adorable and fun thing I have enjoyed in Vegas in a long time.
The second thing I look for in hotel is the bedding and quality of room furnishings and bath area. There may have been a time in my youth when I could make do with an inferior bed or tiny bathroom but when you are working or playing in Vegas and walking all day, there is nothing that helps you keep your energy up like a good quality bed and large bathing area.
The pillow top beds at MGM Grand are so luxurious and comfy you may have a hard time leaving them. Covered with thick white down comforters and five down pillows, these are the top of the line and make coming home to your room or suite after a long day and night of gambling, a divine pleasure.
We were upgraded to a Bungalow Suite with a view of the strip and with our tight schedule of reviewing two shows a night we really needed every inch of extra space and the separate shower and shower tub the suite provides. Having two bathing areas was a wonderful essential and saved a lot of time and aggravation when trying to get more than one person ready in time for all the night has to offer in Vegas.
Although most people do not spend much time looking out the window in Vegas, I do.
A strip view is important to me and I always request one because it just isn’t a Vegas vacation without a view of those magnificent lights and wild architecture. In the morning I like to wake up and enjoy a cup of coffee and a cigarette, to the sunny view of the casinos and mountains and at night I enjoy winding down and reviewing the night’s activities while drinking in the spectacular sparkling lights and billboards. If I can’t see it all I just don’t feel like I’m in Las Vegas!
The furnishings in the MGM rooms and suites are all thoroughly modern and have lovely, sexy portraits of Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Clark Gable and Jean Harlow. The lighting and color schemes are a restful and luxurious selection of golden earth tones, which I really enjoyed. This is a funny aside, I wore a black and white blouse to fly in and when we walked into the black and white marble styled bathroom, the stripes on my blouse exactly matched the shower curtain in our suite. The bathroom was well equipped with nice toiletries including shower gel, a quality glycerin facial soap and knobby massage body soap. It’s fun to take home the extras to remind yourself of the vacation you just enjoyed when you get home to your own shower.
The MGM Grand has so many great quality restaurants to enjoy it is impossible to try them all but we love sushi and reviewed the great fresh fare at Shibuya. The restaurant itself is very romantic and the modern décor with a floor to ceiling wall of ever changing lights behind the many sushi chefs was in itself a relaxing and luxurious event.
Shibuya has an extensive Sake list to choose from. I didn’t know there were that many kinds of sake to choose from and always thought sake was bitter. So I asked our very helpful server for sweet sake and she brought me the most delicious cold saki I have ever tasted. Yuki no Bosha or Cabin in the Snow truly exhibited well-defined aromas of ripe strawberries and peaches while leaving me with a smooth soft texture at finish.
People are so happy and friendly while vacationing at the MGM and the pair of diners next to me offered me a shot of their warm sake choice as just I was leaving to make a show. The man said he couldn’t remember the Japanese name but that I had to try it as it was a three hundred dollar variety of sake and was the very best and let me tell you that little thimbleful of perfectly warmed sake was a diner’s delight!
The sushi was all beautifully prepared and served and the main dishes I tried including the buttery soft Nobi beef short ribs and scallops and lobster tails in butter were all very fresh and very rich in flavor. If you’ve ever been trapped and hungry in Vegas hotel with a lot of mediocre overpriced food choices, you will be delighted by all the quality choices you have at MGM including Craftsteak, Emeril’s and SeaBlue. I already have the fabulous French Joel Robuchon on my list of restaurants there that I would like to review on my next visit!
There is also a fun, airy food court in the MGM shop area with lots of quick, low priced fare for those lunches on the way back to your room after your pool time and late night snacks.
When I return to my home base hotel at the end of a night of shows I like to find a friendly and exciting environment. That is one of the things I liked best about staying at MGM, the atmosphere there is very youthful but classy with well-dressed young people
Spilling out of Studio 54 and just having a great time at the many lovely but relaxing lounges in the casino area. The slots are constantly changing with new and fun games popping up and one of the neat things about MGM is that their club players card is valid for use at all of the casinos associated with the MGM including Bellagio, Circus Circus, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York New York, and Treasure Island.
This makes it easier to get comps and credit for your play as you peruse the strip without having to sign up for and carry five different club cards!
The Spa and Massage!!
I discovered the incredible benefits of utilizing a hotel spa in Las Vegas especially because of all the walking you have to do there. The luxurious spa at MGM is conveniently located right next to the pool entrance, so it is easy to have a dip and sunbath and then just head right in for your massage still in your swimwear.
I had a wonderful and healing Swedish massage from a very sweet lady named Bea, a loyal employee who has been with the MGM Grand since it opened. I really liked the waiting area for massage, it was very relaxing with subdued lighting, large double deep chaise lounges and three kinds of chilled water or tea including one with orange slices, one with mint leaves and a light delicious tea made of hibiscus and honey. They also provide granola bars and very fresh bananas and apples to snack on while waiting which is great to keep your energy up while moving from the massage to purifying steam and sauna.
I really like to use those icy, chilled hand towels in the steam room- one on each pulse point and the MGM adds a nice touch by adding fresh cucumber slices to the ice, which not only gives the towels a delicious aroma but also gives you a nice eye mask if you place them on your eyelids while in the Jacuzzi.
The MGM has several great shows to see including Cirque Du Soleil’s KA, the erotic Crazy Horse Paris and a revolving main stage with stars like MGM regular, David Copperfield and one of my all time favorites, singer Tom Jones.
I didn’t have time to hit Studio 54 on this trip but I have heard from our Buzz CEO, Jason Royal that Studio 54 is number one on his list of Vegas dance clubs partly because of the great mix of music that they play from and because of the fun, good looking young (but not too young) crowd that 54 attracts. There are many classy and yet casual bars to hang out in at MGM like Centrifuge and Vida with it’s exciting Latin flavored dance party which attract a happy well heeled crowd literally twenty four hours a day. I really loved relaxing in the martini bar Zuri, as well as the accessible and beautifully red, Rouge. I loved that every time we returned to the hotel or our suite even at six in the morning that I could see many smiling faces chatting and drinking at each of these open-to-the-casino lounge spots.
There is a wonderful live lion exhibit in the main casino area where we got the pleasure of seeing some sweet kitties strutting and scratching the trees with their majestic grace in a glass enclosed natural habitat.
The MGM Hospitality!!
When I travel for business or pleasure, I like to stay for at least a week and really make the hotel my home. It is essential that the people working there be gracious hosts or the entire trip can be ruined by a single negative encounter. Here’s what I like when it comes to fine hotel staff: friendly, down to earth and knowledgeable people who generously do whatever they can to make my stay special.
You won’t find any of the stuffy, snobby attitudes hat you might encounter at a four star hotel at MGM. From the security men who recognized us after our very first night and waved us in to the elevators with a smile, to the spa staff and pool servers, just about every employee I encountered on this trip was about as friendly and genuine as I could desire.
The MGM is a large organization and I had to communicate with several different departments at each point in our stay and the person who really stood out was manager Jill Archunde. Jill has actually worked her way up from the front desk, through the spa to her current position as VP of Operations. Jill had such a nice tone of interest and helpfulness in her voice from the first time we spoke about this piece for Buzz and went out of her way to provide us with everything we needed to make the trip productive and relaxing.
I have to say that it was difficult to leave the MGM, the overall atmosphere there day and night is one of fun, glamour and modern, yet self effacing luxury .It is not surprising that AAA selected MGM Grand as one of its 2007 Four Diamond Award recipients. With 5,044 guest rooms and suites, MGM Grand now becomes the world’s largest hotel to hold this respected travel designation. The honor comes after a multi-year evolution that has transformed MGM Grand into the ultimate Las Vegas experience. Offering everything from A-list entertainment and award-winning restaurants to high-energy nightlife and relaxing rejuvenation, MGM Grand is truly a hotspot and home away from home I will visit many times to come.